Potassium in Bananas and Avocados Helps to Prevent Hardening of Arteries

Today bananas and avocados are considered the world’s most popular fruits, thanks to a number of essential nutrients they come loaded with. Eating bananas and avocados have been associated with numerous health benefits that are strongly supported by scientific research.

A new study is now giving fresh reason to eat bananas and avocados, saying eating these two fruits can prevent heart disease.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, US, explains potassium in bananas and avocados combat the hardening and ­narrowing of arteries, aka atherosclerosis, and protect against heart disease and death.

It is important to note that just one banana contains 467 milligrams of potassium, while a single avocado comprises 975 milligrams of this mineral that is essential for controlling your heart rate and blood pressure.

Given the fact that both banana and avocado are rich in potassium, they have the potential to prevent buildup of plaque inside your arteries, researchers believe.

In an experiment using mice, the researchers found for the first time that reducing dietary intake of this vital mineral caused arterial stiffness, which can cause heart attacks and strokes in humans.

“The findings have important translational potential since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice, and the adverse effect of low potassium intake,” said researcher Professor Paul Sanders, from the University of Alabama.

For the study, the researchers tested different levels of potassium on mice in a lab. The team fed rodents the diets that were either low, normal or had high levels of this mineral. These mice were vulnerable to heart disease when fed a high-fat diet.

After a cross examination of arteries exposed to different levels of potassium, the investigators discovered a direct link between low levels of the mineral and calcification (deposition of calcium salts in a body tissue).

The findings revealed that the mice on a low-potassium diet suffered a significant increase in artery hardening. Conversely, the mice that received a high-potassium diet had much healthier arteries and a better blood flow.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director for the British Heart Foundation, said the mice study links inadequate consumption of potassium to the hardening of arteries. “With more research, we might be able to see if the disease forms in humans in a similar way and develop treatments,” he added.

The researchers hope their findings would help develop new potential therapies to treat atherosclerotic vascular calcification and arterial stiffness.

The findings appear in the journal JCI Insight.